Founded in the late 1850s at the confluence of two rivers by tin-mining prospectors, Malaysia’s capital is most recognisable today by its iconic Petronas Twin Towers. Look beyond them, though, and you’ll see that Kuala Lumpur is a city that clings to its heritage as much as it sheds it. It runs on tradition and nostalgia even as it pulses closely with fresh energy from global trends. The city’s quaint kampung houses and faded colonial buildings complement its gleaming high-rises with mosques, churches and temples in close proximity. Its generations-old hawker stalls hustle alongside trendy new cafés. And at the heart of it all are the people who call the city home – mostly local Malays, Chinese and Indians, but also immigrants from Europe, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal and the Philippines. Travellers tend to stay in the city centre where the main sights are, but there’s a growing crop of creative dining and drinking venues in other neighbourhoods that are worth a visit too.
When to go:
Any time is a good time. It’s generally hot and humid all year round in Kuala Lumpur, with occasional rains. But rainy spells don’t last long here, and there’s always somewhere you can duck in to escape and wait it out.
How to get around:
You can buy a KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus pass to visit Kuala Lumpur’s main tourist attractions, or ride the free Go KL buses along four different routes. For other parts of the city, the LRT and MRT trains and RapidKL buses are available at most locations. As for ride-hailing apps, download Grab.